Here are the results to 90% of Your Functional Movement Assessments… Sight Unseen!

For the last 12+yrs, I’ve certainly had my share of watching people (from grandmas to NFL players) move. I’ve run the entire spectrum of postural assessments and movement screens, from performing extensive (over 1hrs worth) of complex Physical Therapy based muscle testing to simply using 3-5 basic movements (a push, a pull, a squat, etc:), which takes only a few minutes.

 In doing so, I’ve found that regardless of what movement screening or assessment system you feel works best for you – things almost always come out with these same results:

– Sub-optimal strength in the mid back muscles

– Sub-optimal strength in the glutes

– Lack of body awareness to create a stiff/ stable center (core) while the extremities (arms & legs) move.

– Lack of hip mobility

– Lack of thoracic spine mobility

– Lack of ankle mobility (less common as the above, but I still see it often enough to mention)


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Now, I guarantee you that what I’ve just described covers about 90% of the clients you’re currently working with. The other 10% are folks with very specific, chronic/recurrent aches, pains, limitations and/or structural adaptations. All of which are beyond the scope of this post since those issues are usually beyond the job scope of practice of a fitness professional anyway. What I’m talking about here is your general fitness client who may or may not have some minor aches and pains that come and go, but they don’t need specific physical therapy. And they’re interested in becoming fitter, stronger and leaner ASAP!

Now, If I can just sit here, sight unseen and tell you almost exactly what you’ve found with your clients in an assessment. You have to ask yourself the same questions I asked myself some time ago:

– “Am I making things more complex than they need to be?”

– “Do I really need to do a complex, extensive assessment to create a great fitness program?”

– “How come I’m doing stuff that was designed for physical therapy when I’m a Personal trainer who works with fitness clients, not rehab patients?”

– “How much is my assessment really changing my program (as a trainer) if I’m just going to end up doing some version of Deadlifts, Turkish get Ups, Horizontal rows, planks, Thoracic spine mobility drills, Ankle mobility drills, etc: with everyone anyway?”

Keep It Simple Stupid

When I sat back and really looked at my approach I realized that as a fitness professional, people come to me to look better naked, outperform the competition and increase their own self image. That’s what sets me (the Fitness Professional) apart from Physical Therapists and it’s also what I’m way more qualified to do than a physical therapist since they take injured people and attempt to bring them back to normal. Where as I (the fitness pro) take “normal” folks and help them attempt to reach their physical potential. That’s my role as a trainer!

Know your role and SHUT YOUR MOUTH1

 I’ve found myself using less and less assessments (No, I didn’t say “NO assessment”) and started taking the approach that I wanted find what my clients CAN do in an exercise setting, instead of what they can’t in a rehab type assessment. And, I don’t see any reason why I can’t (on day one) start some one out on a FITNESS program (that doesn’t treat them like a rehab patient) as long as I do the following:

– Get them off of their ass and moving (and burning calories)

– Keep them in pain free motions

– Keep them in what in what you deem to be good exercise form

– Encourage them to make movement a regular part of their life

– Work to reverses the sitting position

– Emphasize strength in the glutes and mid-back muscles

– Emphasize stability and stiffness from the center (the core) out

– Emphasize mobility in the Hips, Ankles and T-spine

Whether or not you choose to use an assessment – Or, what type of assessment you choose to use is not for me to say. But, I can tell you that based on the information I’ve provided you here, I do feel that if you simply apply a training approach, which covers the above – You’ll clear up most of the “issues” your clients present with by default, without much technical knowledge of physical therapy-ish techniques. Plus, you’ll certainly help your clients become fitter, leaner and stronger! So I’d never look down on a trainer who’s not comfortable with using assessments, nor would I pressure an individual into learning them as long as this trainer was willing to use some common sense and take the general approach to training their clients, which I’ve just described.

If we can all agree that:

– People don’t move enough (possibly because they’re plain lazy)

– They don’t get enough variety in movement (from always performing the same work or sporting movement pattern)

– They sit too much

– They’re overweight

– They’ve got Poor Postural habits

– They lack of a well balanced training program (from maybe performing too much chest strength work w/o much high-quality mid-back strength work, etc:)

Then we can also agree that these are simple problems, which have these simple solutions:

– Move more

– Sit less

– Loose that gut!

– Get a more balanced workout

– Get more variety of movement

– Enjoy moving so it becomes a regular part of your life

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If you do all of these very simple and common sense things in your program, regardless of how you train or what you think you “know”. I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have much happier and healthier clients who not only look better, they’ll also feel better inside and out!

 And, anything else that doesn’t improve from this training approach probably ain’t your job as a fitness professional to worry about improving anyway.

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